Taking the first concrete steps toward “faceless tax administration,” the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has given its approval for a programme that will kickstart the ambitious plan for jurisdiction-free assessment, which is aimed at reducing the scope for corruption by eliminating the need for face-to-face interaction between officers and tax payers.
“This is a significant reform,” said a government official with knowledge of the development. “A pilot with 60,000 taxpayers would be carried out in four metros and four large cities.” Apart from the four metros, the other cities are Pune, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had told ET in an interview in August that the government would soon start anonymous assessment. The pilot could be launched on October 8, Dussehra, said the person cited above.
The plan will initially be limited to assessments in which tax officials have maximum one or two queries and then expanded.
The direct taxes taskforce has suggested significant changes to tax administration to make it anonymous, including doing away with the concept of “assessing officer” and replacing it with “assessment units.”
The report, yet to be made public, has sought the creation of “functional units” of officers with sectoral and industry knowledge and expertise.
ACBDT internal committee had in 2017 recommended jurisdiction-free assessment. The processing of returns is already jurisdiction-free and is carried out electronically at Bengaluru. The department has also begun sending queries to taxpayers through electronic means.